Swarms of bats started flying over Prague’s Stromovka park in search of new dwellings. These mammals spent the winter in a rescue centre.
This year ecologists managed to save a record number of bats from death by hunger and exhaustion.
“We had some 400 bats here last winter while in previous years it was only dozens,” said Dagmar Zieglerová from Nyctalus organisation that secures refuge for bats.
“Mice with wings”, as most of the people tend to perceive these animals, often lose their homes during winter. “A tree, in which bats used to live, was felled on Střelecký ostrov, for example,” Zieglerová said.
Rescuers first placed the bats in an old wardrobe and then they closed a deal with Prague City Hall to house the bats in Divoká Šárka in the space were the Germans built an underground field airport during World War II.
Bats are conservative and so they often return to the same spot for wintering for decades. Their traditional places include caves and attics where they hide between the beams, under the roof top or in gaps between wooden planks. In cities bats take advantage of gaps between the panels of estate houses, lift shafts or spaces behind insulation.
Bats start waking up at the turn of March and April after they consume all of their fat resources. This is the reason why the bats are being returned into nature. “Stromovka park is suitable for them because of its closeness to the river, which helps the bats with orientation,” Zieglerová said.
Rescuers released some 40 protected bats near the pond in Stromovka. The bats were mainly Common Noctule, Serotine bat, Rearmouse and Nathusius’s Pipistrelle. It is the Common Noctule that is most common in Prague, representing almost 75% of the bat population. It often resides near people and so it sometimes also flies into flats.
Experts say the myths about bats entangling into long hair are nonsense. “We put a bat on somebody’s head but it flew away after a while without getting entangled,” Zieglerová said.
There are 26 bat species living in Prague, though there used to be more. Ecologists have been mapping the places where bats live in the past years, and they also organise events where people can get close to these animals surrounded by so many myths.